Washington: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his officials had sought to influence the 2020 US election by “denigrating” Joe Biden with “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations” pushed through people close to Donald Trump, the US intelligence community said in a declassified report.
The intelligence report does not name any of these people, but Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney of former president Trump, may have been among them, according to news reports.
He had had contacts with Russian agents during the time he pursued the attempt to implicate then presidential candidate Joe Biden in an unproven corruption scandal involving his son Hunter Biden’s business connections with a Ukrainian company.
The intelligence report, which is the first about the November election, also says the Russian operation was supportive of then president Trump, but unlike in 2016, “we did not see persistent Russian cyber efforts to gain access to the election infrastructure”.
Iran also conducted a “multi-pronged covert influence campaign” intended to “undercut” then president Trump, but it did not seek to directly promote his rivals, the report says.
The Russian influence operation was built around a central narrative, which the report says began taking shape back in 2014 during the Obama administration’s second term. It was basically an attempt to allege corrupt ties between Biden and his family with Ukraine. Russian intelligence banked on Ukrainian proxies to build this fiction, giving themselves room for deniability.